Peace… a short, one-syllable word. It even sounds soft as it rolls off the tongue. Yet to my mind, its meaning is elusive. At least it was before writing this piece.
As a writer, I always have my Merriam-Webster dictionary close at hand, and, over the years, I have accepted and oft-quoted its definitions as unquestionable truth. Until now.
Per Webster: peace (n) 1. state in which there is no war or fighting 2. harmony in personal relations 3. the lack of hostility
After a long list of similar definitions, there are sentence examples for students learning the English language. Two of them were at least closer to how I perceive the meaning. One referred to a state of tranquility, and the other as seeking inner peace. No matter the meaning, we don’t just desire it – we crave it.
Resorts offer it… spas promise it… artists try to capture it. But what is “it”? Certainly more than a calm feeling or the absence of chaos and conflict.
Still not satisfied, still seeking the depth and dimension of this little word, I turned to another Book to see what God-inspired writers had to say about it. I was not only informed, but inspired and surprised by its multiple and varied references. I learned, for instance…
– There is a peace WITH God. Romans 5:1 — “… therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
– There is a peace OF God. 1 Corinthians 14:23 — “God is not a God of disorder, but a God of peace.” Also, from Philippians 4:17, “… and the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
– There is a peace that IS God. Ephesians 2:14 — “… for He Himself is our peace.” (note not the spa or the beach or that next new purchase)
– There is a peace that He GIVES. 2 Thessalonians 3:16 — “… May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way.”
– There is a peace that He GRANTS for our comfort – a heart balm if you will. Isaiah 26:3 — “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.”
– There is a peace that is a POSITIVE END RESULT OF DISCIPLINE. Hebrews 12:11 — “… no discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (I don’t much care for this one, gaining by discipline, but then no one asked me.)
And, most surprising of all for this reader/writer, there is a peace that we must SEEK AND PURSUE. 1 Peter 3:11 — “Let him turn away from evil and do good; he must seek after peace and pursue it.” (It doesn’t just happen automatically?)
These are but a few of the scripture verses about peace and its, for lack of a better word, characteristics. Are they one and the same? Are they dependent on the need or maybe the situation?
Regardless of what the dictionary says, it is abundantly clear that God is the originator of peace (and He doesn’t care if it is a noun, a verb, or an adjective). He IS it! It is His very essence. He is the One who owns it and gives it. The so-called peace of this world is fleeting and phony and shallow. It has no lasting power. No joy.
Just today I heard someone say, “I am desperate for God’s peace. Sometimes I feel like He has forgotten my address because He is so silent.” Pity the heart that knows this desperation.
It is doubtful that I could define this little five-letter word to Webster’s liking, but I now know this simple truth. In all of us, the longing for peace is merely a God-shaped hole in our heart. And because He made us, He is the only One who can fill it.
You won’t find that in the dictionary.
Rosi is a mother of 4, grandmother of 14, and great-grandmother of 8 and is blessed far beyond what she could have ever imagined. She is a journeywoman who continues to grow and learn and be the recipient of amazing grace. Rosi’s daughter, Emma Barnhart, attended the May 2013 Legacy Retreat® with her family. You can follow Rosi’s personal blog here.